Fifty years ago, the PSU Plastics Engineering Technology program was in its infancy, charting a path to become recognized as a national model.  

Today, its graduates are sought after by industry leaders, and the program is playing a pivotal role in the local economy. 

City leaders, alumni, faculty and staff, and industry representatives gathered at the Kansas Technology Center last fall to celebrate the program’s 50th birthday, with an eye to the future.   

The program’s placement rate is 100 percent, and alumni have gone on to impressive careers from coast to coast. Partnerships with those alumni and the industries they represent have played a key role in the success of the department, noted Chair Greg Murray. 

Michael McGrew (BST ‘06), current president of the PET advisory council and a leader at Alpha Packaging in St. Louis, Missouri, said it’s a way to give back.  

“This program and the faculty were very influential on me and my career,” said McGrew, who now recruits graduates. “The hands-on experiences I had here, the faculty interaction, being able to operate equipment before I graduated, all contributed to where I am now.” 

Mike Mirocke (BST ‘89), owner of Mirocke Sales Company in Shawnee, Kansas, has served on the PETAC since 1992, and said the program remains just as important to him today. 

“I know from having been a student here myself how important it is to have access to top of the line equipment, to bring in experts to provide seminars, and help them connect with internships,” he said. 

Associate Professor Rebeca Book said the groundwork laid 50 years ago helped propel Plastics Engineering Technology into a program recognized nationally. 

“I think our founders would be very, very proud,” she said.